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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Ludicrous thoughts behind smoking ban

SIR – The Government’s health ministers have really outdone themselves this time.

Two things in your article about single-driver company cars being exempt from a smoking ban (Fleet NewsNet, May 18) strike me as being ludicrous.

Firstly, the idea that if someone drives a van in the morning and smokes, then hands the vehicle over to another driver in the afternoon, the afternoon driver would be at risk from second-hand smoke. How? The only way I see this being possible is if the first driver forgets to extinguish his cigarette in the morning and somehow, it is still burning in the afternoon.

Secondly, Lord Monson’s comment about the possibility of police mistaking a Biro for a cigarette. What has he been smoking? Who drives along while holding a Biro?

Or if the comment was referring to passengers that might be in the car, who writes on paper with a cigarette?

The whole idea is preposterous to me anyway. While smokers may now be viewed by the Government in the same light as murderers and people who break the speed limit, I would say that almost all company car drivers would have the decency not to smoke if they had a non-smoking passenger. Or they would at least ask permission first.

And if the non-smoking passenger isn’t bothered by the potentially lethal second-hand smoke, what’s the problem? Oh, I forgot – we’re not allowed to make decisions for ourselves any more.

LEE BAKER
Faccenda

Fraud risk to fuel fill-ups

SIR – I have just read your article on fuel card scams, and thought you might be interested in something that happened to me recently at a Shell petrol station.

I pulled into the service station at around 11.15pm and parked up, lifted the petrol pump nozzle to request fuel and nothing happened. Looking towards the window of the shop, I saw a young man waving to me. He told me that unless I handed over my Visa or debit card as security for payment I could not have any fuel. I refused to do this, explaining that the request was illegal. He then suggested that he swipe the card and return it to me. Once again, I said this was an illegal request and refused to do so. At this point, he refused to serve me.

I asked for the manager, who said exactly the same and still refused to give me petrol. When I asked why they were doing this, he told me it was to stop people driving off without paying. At that point, I threw my car keys into the pay tray and told the manager that I could not go anywhere as they had my keys, he saw sense and allowed me to fill up.

However, while I was debating this with both the attendant and the manager, several customers wandered across and handed over their cards without any questions or hesitation at all.

I can see why it is so easy for scams and fraud to take place

DALE SHINGLER
Albis

Truth about car opt-outs

SIR – It was with little shock that I learned from the article ‘Hidden burdens of opt-out schemes’ (Fleet NewsNet, May 8) that such schemes cost companies an estimated £360 million in excess taxes and national insurance contributions during 2004 and 2005.

I also agreed with the comments that the AMAP rates supplementing salaries are costing the employers.

However, I strongly disagree with the implication in the article that there is no alternative and that opt-out schemes and AMAP rates in themselves are causing this waste. It is not the cash alternative scheme or the 40p and 25p rates which are at fault, it is the way they are used.

Essentially, companies should never pay the full 40p and 25p rates. By paying the full AMAP rates, a low-paid employee can run, maintain and insure a Porsche Boxster and still have cash left over. Companies should use the full rate, not pay it, by splitting the 40p rate between fuel, tax benefit and capital. This leaves a balance which can then be used to pay the employee his cash alternative.

PAUL JACKSON
Managing director, The Miles Consultancy

Money-maker

SIR – Regarding your article ‘Congestion charge fury’ (Fleet NewsNet, May 18): This is just another money-making scheme to take from those who need to use the roads and pile up yet more dosh in Greedy Ken’s treasure chest.

ALISTAIR WHITE
Vehicle workshop manager, Eastleigh Borough Council

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